The Journal of the Mega Society

Number 69

May 1992




Rick Rosner

5139 Balboa Blvd #303

Encino CA  91316-3430

(818) 986-9177


Here's a list of members and subscribers.  Chris Cole is sending each new or recent member a complete set of back issues.  Subscribers may also obtain sets of back issues by sending Chris a check for $20.  A reminder--the number in parentheses to the right of your name on your mailing label is the issue number through which your subscription is paid.  This issue will be the last issue sent to lapsed subscribers. 

If, however, your subscription has lapsed by only one or two issues, we'll won't immediately cut you off.  As usual, payments should be sent in my name to the address above.  If you disagree with the number in parentheses, let me know, and we'll rectify it.  As usual, it's 10 bucks for 6 issues.  Thanks.




Louis K. Acheson Jr.

17721 Marcello Place

Encino CA  91316

William H. Archer

1621 Hackney St.

Winfield KS  67156-5155

Arval Bohn

702 Laurel Valley Road

Austin TX  78746

Anthony J. Bruni

4770 West Bellfort, #107

Houston TX  77035

John R. Buuck

3446 Regalwoods Dr.

Doraville GA  30340

Jane V. Clifton

95 Kipling Rd.

Hamilton, Ontario L85 3X4


Chris Cole

P. O. Box 9545

Newport Beach CA 


Robert Dick

13 Speer St.

Somerville NJ  08876

George Dicks

191 Sturm St.

New Haven IN 46774

Eric Erlandson

2051 Worthington Ave.

Lincoln NE  68502

Marshall Fox  

3834 Savannah Square West

Atlanta GA  30340

Donald E. Frank

18805 Los Leones St.

Fountain Valley CA 


Hughes Gervais

9370 Place Du Berger

Charlesbourg, Quebec

Canada  G1G 4N1

Stefan Giesecke

Klinik Havelhohe (Station 17)

Kladower Damm 221

1000 Berlin 22

James D. Hajicek

5894 Spring Valley Road

Burlington WI  53105

Robert J. Hannon

4473 Staghorn Lane

Sarasota FL  34238-5626

Christopher Harding

P. O. Box 5271

Rockhampton Mail Centre

Queensland 4702


Steve Hoberman

P. O. Box 794

Needham Heights MA  02194

Kjeld Hvatum

27 Pine St.

Dover MA  02030-2425

Dean Inada

23333 Ridge Route Drive #51

El Toro CA  92630

Daryl Inman

P. O. Box 92

Mexia TX  76667

LeRoy C. Kottke

4787 Dawson Drive

Ann Arbor MI  48103

Ed Kretschmer

1877 Miller

Ann Arbor MI  48103-2551

C. M. Langan

P. O. Box 131

Speonk NY

Kevin Langdon

P. O. Box 795

Berkeley CA  94701

Frank M. Lopez

P. O. Box 4067

Austin TX  78765-4067

Celia Manolesco

1127 22nd St. Unit B

Santa Monica CA  90403

Richard May

279 Highland Ave.

Buffalo NY  14222-1748

John W. Mathewson

4647 90th Ave. S.E.

Mercer Island WA  98040

Glenn A. Morrison

706 Brown Ave.

Evanston IL  60202

Donald O'Brien

10864 Alderbrook Lane

Cupertino CA  95014

Johann Oldhoff

Hagalundsg. 37 VI

S-17151 Solna


Peter H. Oliver

36 Chester Hill Road

Toronto, Ontario

Canada M4K 1X3

A. Palmer

609 W. Washington St.

Apt. 11-69

Sequim WA  98392

P. A. Pomfrit

22, Moat Hall Ave.

Peel Green, Eccles, Manchester

England M3O 7LR

M. C. Price

54 Union Road

Northolt, Middlesex UB5 6UE


Robert D. Russell

3313 Circlewood Court

Grapevine TX  76051-6520

Peter Schmies

Gruterstr. 6

5760 Arnsberg 1


Donald Scott

P. O. Box 7080

Grand Central Station

New York NY  10163

William Sharp

4165 Menlo Ave. #104

San Diego CA 92105-1853

Dirk E. Skinner

1027 East Chestnut Ave.

Vineland NJ  08360

John Springfield

2910 Franklin Ave. E.,

No. 1905

Minneapolis MN  55406

Steve Sweeney

308 E. Capitol SE Apt. 2

Washington DC  20003

Willy W. van Roosbroeck

19 Whittredge Road

Summit NJ  07901-2824

Jeff Ward

13155 Wimberly Square #284

San Diego CA  92128

S. Woolsey

P. O. Box 1942

Houston TX  77251

Jeff Wright

W6627 Highway V

Holmen WI  54636






Ron Hoeflin

P. O. Box 539

New York NY  10101




(including some people who qualified but never joined)


Ferris Alger

Phillip Bloom

Geraldine Brady

H. W. "Bill" Corley

Andrew Egendorf

Solomon W. Golomb

Eric Hart

William I. Hacker

John McAdon

Carl J. Porchey

Keith Raniere

Avrom A. Rosen

Cedric Stratton

John H. Sununu

H. Herbert Taylor

James Tetazoo

Edgar M. Van Vleck

Johannes D. Veldhuis

Marilyn Mach vos Savant

Karl G. Wikman

Ray Wise







(Kevin Langdon sent me a document labeled "Mega/Noetic Combined List, November 1991."

In addition to most of the foregoing names, it also contained these:)


R. A. Montalban Anderssen

Gary Bryant

David L. Garvey

David W. Kelsey

Ron Lee

J. L. Lemke

Durward McLaughlin

Robert C. Miller

John Purnell

Charles M. Rice

Naomi Roberts

Leta Speyer

Dale Swain

Billy Tarchuk

Laura Van Arragon

Leonard Weisberg

Barry Weiss

Bruce R. Whiting




For the past several months, Spy magazine has been running a column called "Meet the Nobelists!" in which they contact a bunch of laureates and ask each a stupid question.  Last month, it was, "How would you escape from Gilligan's Island?"  This month, they're asking, "What's the best way to stop hiccups?"  (I have a theory about hiccups--I think they're a valuable physiological response to eating in a hurried or distracted fashion or the consumption of hard-to-swallow food.  You swallow a lot of air when you eat like a slob, like an animal.  I think hiccups jar the stomach, allowing solids and liquids to settle and gases to rise, so that they can be burped away.)


The project whereby we create our own high IQ test seems to be gathering a little momentum.  Should we come up with 20 or so good items, Chris Cole is considering taking out a full page ad in The Mensa Journal which will contain the test questions.




Dear Mr.


I send you puzzles based on the periodic table, feel free to use them in Noesis or anywhere else.


H, B, C, N, O, F, P, S, K, V, Y, I, W, ?


Arranged by atomic number in croissant order we have

1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 19, 23, 39, 53, 74, ?


7, 10, 11, 28, 41, 60, 93, ?


Another one can be a sentence like SUBSTANCES SERIES, by substitution letter or group of letters by atomic number,


16--92---5---16---73----7----6----99-      0    -16---68---53---?  (?=99)


Very truly,


Hughes Gervais


[Answers next issue.  I don't understand the croissant one.  Here's one based on Hughes Gervais's suggestions:

89, 13, 95, 51, 18, 33, 85, 56, 97, 4, 83, 5, 35, 48, 20, ?]





Dear Rick:


It's not clear from reading the last two issues of Noesis who was exposed to Jojo Einstein, much less how they received it.  Since I got no response to my last letter, I'm in the dark on whether you need material.


Odds are that you're still getting mail relating to the merger, probably polarized along personal lines.  If so, maybe you need a chance to sort it out before engaging in more productive dialogue.


It would be a shame if the merger were to fall victim to disputes involving IQ testing methods, all of which suffer limitations well within the grasp of any disinterested analyst (and which I could present in hard-edged form).  These disputes have a paradoxical aspect: ignoring IQ limitations indicates a limited IQ.  The fact is, modern IQ tests are better at revealing who should be included in, not excluded from, organizations for the gifted.  It's time to start shaking hands instead of fists.


Regarding the illusory aspects of Special Relativity (Noesis 66), a theory which has never enjoyed a full logical justification, it might be instructive to counter with a question:  when different observers see an object differently from different angles and distances, how is it to be determined which if any of them are seeing the "true" object, and which are seeing an "illusion"?


I almost hesitate to mention this, since Noesis is unquestionably the best name for the journal.  But I'm not sure how many readers could complete the following analogy:


Unfortunately, the only real Megarian is a dead Megarian.


Regarding Chris Cole's piece on cellular automata, it wouldn't be too difficult to produce a mathematical proof of the empirical density relationship he mentions.  If Ed Fredkin, who suggested the literal reduction of reality to just such an automation, was even partially correct (and in a limited sense he was), the "practical applications" of this relationship include the physical universe and, by inclusion, everything in it.


I hope you're doing well in school.  I've got to give you credit; anybody willing to shell out today's inflated tuition in return for grading and supervision by people who probably can't outthink him is dedicated, to say the least.  I noticed long ago that those who can't buy intelligence instead buy credentials with which to cover its absence.  While you no doubt seek the advantages of both, don't let them regress you to their mean.




Chris L.


[Editor's comments:  Lots of points to respond to--

I didn't receive much feedback on Jojo Einstein.  It's been months and months since it ran; perhaps people have now had time to digest it and respond.  How 'bout it, y'all?  (Y'all is a very functional word, being the only pronoun that is specifically second person plural.)


We always need material.  NEVER HESITATE to send me stuff.  (Just do what you can to make typing it into my computer less of a struggle.)


Merger mail has dwindled, and I'm hoping that everyone is satisfied with the results.  If not, undwindle the merger mail.


Re Special Relativity--I think all information in the form of physical interactions between an object and its observers are equally true.  Each observer receives a different information package, but I think the truth for each observer is in that package.  That doesn't mean that misleading information can't be received, but it's observers' jobs to guess what other information packets might look like based on the contents of their packets. 


Lots of the counterintuitive points raised by Special Relativity tend to be a little bit self-satirical, considering the near impossibility of making gedankenexperiments real.  Accelerating electrons to near-c is one thing, and accelerating rods and hoops another.  Which isn't to deny the validity of Special Relativity for macrocosmic objects; it's just that macrocosmic objects moving at large relative velocities tend to spend little time close enough to each other for apparent paradoxes to be observed.  Perhaps there are harsh corners of the universe that are a three-ring circus of relativistic observations, but we will not be visiting them soon.  Our observations of macroscopic objects really hauling ass are doomed to be from very far afar for the conceivable future.  (Though it would be pretty thrilling if some science fiction object did come ripping through the solar system at light speed.)


Here's one reader who can't complete your analogy.  I guess you're poking gentle fun at the obscurity of the name Noesis.  I don't remember what it means either.  My brother calls it Neosis, making it sound like a disease.  It remains a catchy title, though.


School sucks.  I thought that after six years away from college, I'd be a mature and well-behaved student, but no.  I still avoid going to hated classes, which is all of them.  Still avoid homework, still flail ignorantly at unstudied-for exams.  Cal State Northridge, my new school, is a jokey nightmare of doofy bureaucracy and false liberal sentiments manipulated by a sleazy administration.  To graduate, which I probably won't, I must take 80 zillion general ed. requirements, including stuff such as Speech and California History and Government.  Even P.E. raises its pointy little burrhead. 


My teachers are actually pretty good.  Some seem to have been made slightly deranged by immersion in the Cal State system, but others are cheerfully resistant.  I'm thinking of resorting to a diploma mill.  Richard May, you got your master's from Cal State Dominguez Hills, what did you think of it?  One good thing, though, tuition is not very expensive.







Surely you can't be so busy as to not answer my simple question re my ACE test.


Please reply




[My comments:  I wish it was a simple question.  However, the ACE has been out of use for thirty years.  While it was used, there seemed to have been five editions, some of which had different scoring scales.  Also, the test's creators, the Thurstones, had been criticized for failing to publish national norms.


I spent a couple more hours at the CSUN library going through old bound editions of journals of psychology and education.  I found data which I think applies to the version you took.  One study, cited in Personnel Psychology, volume 7, pages 553-4, Winter, 1954, tested 75 people.  Their mean ACE score was 111.35 with a standard deviation of 29.42.  Another study, again in Personnel Psychology, volume 11, page 271, Summer, 1958, tested 135 people.  Their mean ACE score was 107 with a standard deviation of 30.  Yet another study, this time in The Journal of Educational Research, volume 46, pages 353-8, January, 1953, looked up the past scores of University of Michigan students.  The students were divided into two groups--those who did and those who did not end up on academic probation.  The results were further divided by sex.  In reporting the results of this study, the authors coded the ACE scores strangely, so exact scores were not recoverable.  However, of scores for 56 non-probationary male students with a mean score of about 128, the two highest scores were about 164 and 168.  The high score among 58 male probationary students was about 152.  Among 42 non-probationary female students, the high was about 162, and among 69 probationary female students, two had a high of about 156.


These studies indicate that 165 is a very good score, but one that is within the traditional boundaries of plus or minus three standard deviations as measured by most group-administered aptitude tests.  A mean ACE score of 110 and a standard deviation of 30 would indeed generate a three standard deviation range with an upper limit of 200.


I've exhausted my resources concerning the percentile equivalent of this score.  I've tried contacting The American Council on Education, The Educational Testing Service, and Mensa, to no avail.  Someone with more persistence or more money to spend on long distance might have better luck. 


If you think that your score is four and a half s.d.'s above the mean, you must get in touch with a psychometrician or someone with access to psychometric data which I haven't been able to locate.  Or, you could try taking one of the tests created by Ron Hoeflin or Kevin Langdon which were designed with the specific intent of measuring high IQ.  Chris Harding also creates upper limit tests.  His Multimax Test contains only ten multiple-choice questions and claims a ceiling of 200+.  Each author's address is listed at the beginning of this issue.]





Dear Rick,


Any chance of getting back issues #57, 59, 60 & 61?  I hope you publish Chris Harding's Multimax Test.




M .C. Price


[As a new member, you should be receiving a complete set of back issues from Chris Cole.  The Multimax Test is in issue 60.]







Here is a test which can be solved one of two ways: either one can solve the analogies outright or solve the scrambled answers and then fit them to the appropriate answers.  I call it the Crypto-Analogies Test.  I will score each person's responses for $5.00 and provide the answers.  Please send a SASE.


Write the word that best completes each analogy.  For example, in the analogy

AMERICAN : (is to) ASTRONAUT :: (as) RUSSIAN : (is to) ?, the best answer would be COSMONAUT.





4.  51 : 50 :: ULTIMATE : ?




8.  10 EXP 30 : NONILLION :: 10 EXP 100 : ?






14. AZTEC : INCA :: CORTEZ : ?


16. 5,880,000,000 : LIGHT-YEAR :: 19,200,000,000,000 : ?




20. STRETCH : RACK :: DROP : ?





































[Editor's comment:  for the analogy AMERICAN : ASTRONAUT :: RUSSIAN : ?  the best answer is not COSMONAUT.  The best answer is SPATULA.]






Dear Rick Rosner,


I haven't received an issue of Noesis since issue 66, dated November 1991.


If the monthly schedule has been junked, maybe a statement should appear in the next issue indicating how frequently you plan to publish the journal.  Very infrequent publication tends to render Noesis largely worthless as a vehicle for dialogue, needless to say.  Personal correspondence would work better.




Ron Hoeflin


[Editor's comment:  this issue is supposed to be the one where I get back on track and start spitting out issues monthly.  I'm hoping you receive this while it's still May.]





Dear Editor:


I'm surprised at you, writing that my second gedanken experiment question mixes up special and general relativity.  My question was quite simple and straightforward.  Apparently it is your idea of the answer that mixes theories.  I wish someone would explain to me how a clock can tell the difference between being accelerated and being subject to gravity while stationary.  I just don't get it.


Since you invited short statements on abortion, let me tell you that I am the Secretary of the Somerset County NJ Right to Life Committee, and Editor of its newsletter.  Anyone who wants five pages of anti-abortion arguments send me a SASE for a free copy.


I will just give you the argument most meaningful to me.  I don't care whether an unborn baby is fully human or only potentially human.  He or she may well carry the divine spark.  To die without ever having seen the light of day is a terrible loss.  I can hardly bear to think about it.


I see myself and my associates engaged in a great terrible battle between the forces of life and death.  As the Russian author Igor Shaverevich argued, socialism is the expression of nihilism in politics.  Since the defeat of Soviet Socialism the forces of nihilism and death have changed from red to green.  Supposedly we have to cut the population to Save the Earth.  Baloney!  The world is not over-populated, it is under-wealthy.  Under capitalism (a wealth-producing engine of tremendous power) and democracy it can sustain far more population than it has now, and with most of the population highly wealthy by contemporary standards.


Very truly,


Robert Dick


[Editor's comments:  First, let me express my appreciation to the authors of this and the following letter for expressing themselves with brevity and clarity.  I love when that happens. 


About the gedankenexperiment--I still think it's an apples and oranges thing, though I'm no authority (unless a bunch of failing grades in physics count).  The thought experiment in question has a rocket traveling away from the earth and back, maintaining a one G acceleration the entire time.  Robert Dick asks why such a set-up should result in different clock times on earth and on the ship, since each is subject to the same acceleration.  I've thought about it quite a bit, and I must do more thinking, but I believe that under special relativity, velocity determines time dilation.  Acceleration can make differences in time rates apparent as objects shift from one inertial frame to another, as in the twin paradox, but the source of different time rates remains velocital.  Objects can theoretically experience large and sustained non-gravitational accelerations at relatively low velocities, as in an imaginary centrifuge of small radius, but as far as I can figure, such acceleration won't be associated with any significant time dilation.  Clocks can't tell whether they're experiencing gravitational acceleration or delta vee acceleration, but this doesn't mean that accelerated clocks will experience equal time dilation with regard to external frames.  The twin paradox can be set up to include nearly zero acceleration or nearly infinite acceleration, but age differences are generated by sustained differences in velocities, without regard to magnitude of acceleration.


About overpopulation--Whether or not we are currently overpopulated, I believe that we will be overpopulated at some time in the next several centuries.  Something good or bad will have to happen eventually.  I can't see abortion as the foundation of a reasonable population control strategy, nor have I seen it suggested as such.


I would be happy to see the human population stabilize.  I think that the birth of a million or more new humans a week limits the chances of any random human, wealthy or not, leading a life with any significant novelty, of adding anything appreciable to the story of our species, of experiencing anything more than minutely dissimilar to the experiences of ten thousand other people.]





Dear Rick,


In answer to your questions (Number 68):


a)  I am pro-choice.  Neither government nor religion has the prerogative to tell any woman that she must have an unwanted child.  I do, however, object to the use of abortion at public expense as a substitute for ordinary birth control measures.


b)  I am in favor of the death penalty.  When persons are charged with the few heinous crimes which warrant the death penalty, extreme care must be taken to ensure that their conviction is valid (and that they are not let off on "technicalities").  One equally intensive appeal should be automatic, in another place with another judge, another jury and different attorneys.  If convicted upon appeal, execution should be immediate.  No more than one year should intervene between being charged and being executed or liberated.


c)  When I was young and inexperienced in life (1940-60), I was what then was called a "liberal democrat," which was not much like the current connotation of that term.  today I am only slightly to the left of Genghis Khan.  As I grew older, I learned that all men are not created equal and that a great many are useless, inherently mean and worse, deserving little consideration from the rest of us.  As we gain real life experience, open-minded, intelligent people learn that most "liberal" views are fallacies at best, and outright destructive at worst.  If rejection of "liberal" ideas constitutes "conservatism," then it is inevitable for open-minded and intelligent people to grow more conservative as they gain life experience and age.  While Reagan may be no genius, he brought a more realistic outlook to his administration that was essential to our society at the time.  Even greater realism is necessary today;  unfortunately, none of the current candidates is in touch with the real world.




Why all the talk about IQ tests?  In my view, those used by all of the Hi IQ societies test nothing but one's ability to pass IQ tests.  I have taken several during my life.  Before taking them I already knew that I am "more intelligent" than most other people.  How much more does not concern me.  Since belonging to or being associated with several Hi IQ societies, I have not perceived their participating members to be unusually bright.  Indeed, I am often baffled by what appears to be a lack, among those Hi IQ types, of the intellectual sophistication and open-mindedness I expected, and that I found in my more intelligent coworkers over the years.


In my view, the belief that the types of tests put forth by the various Hi IQ societies are actually able to differentiate between the "one in a hundred" and the "one in a million" is a delusion.  Seeking after such a questionable distinction seems to me to be less an indicator of intellectual superiority than of a need to compensate for feelings of inferiority.




Ron Hoeflin's American Philosophy and the Problem of Induction, like any such discussion, assumes free will.  In the real and rigidly causal universe free will does not exist.  the process(es) by which any of us reaches any "conclusion" or makes any "decision" or takes any "action," or develops a "philosophy," or a "morality," is entirely predetermined by a chain of cause and effect that began when time began.   The results of any such process are inevitable.  This does not mean that we can "foresee" the future in any sense;  only that there is but one possible and inevitable future, and but one possible and inevitable result of all our mental activities.




As HRH Ron Hoeflin has recently ruled that my views on relativity are "crackpot" science, you may not be interested, but I offer my views on the Special Relativity questions posed by Robert Dick and Chris Harding.


General Relativity is not required to resolve the "twin paradox," because there is no such paradox.


The Lorentz Transformation (LT), which is the mathematical basis of Special Relativity (SR), tells us only what an observer in one inertial frame of reference (IFR-1) will observe as to the three spatial dimensions and the one temporal dimension of another inertial frame of reference (IFR-2).  The LT does not mean or even imply that the dimensions of another  IFR factually and physically change as a result of its velocity/speed relative to us (as observers).  It does not tell us anything about the observer's own IFR.  A clock in IFR-1 measures time at an exactly fixed rate, regardless of how fast IFR-2 may be moving to IFR-1.  Similarly, a clock in IFR-2 measures time at an exactly fixed rate, regardless of how fast IFR-1 may be moving relative to IFR-2.  If the two clocks are identical, perfect clocks that measure time at exactly the same rate when their relative velocity is zero, they will continue to measure time at exactly the same rate, regardless of how great their relative velocity may become.  An observer in IFR-1 will observe the clock in IFR-2 to slow down as its speed relative to IFR-1 increases.  This is an illusion arising from its relative speed.  An observer in IFR-2 will observe the clock in IFR-1 to slow down as its speed relative to IFR-2 increases.  This is an illusion arising from its relative speed.  The observed slow-down is exactly the same for both observers at any given relative speed.


There is no "twin paradox," because both clocks always measure time at exactly the same rate.  Tim factually passes at exactly the same rate in all IFRs, regardless of their velocities relative to any observer.  The observed slow-downs of clocks are illusions.  A second in IFR-1 is exactly the same as a second in IFR-2, regardless of their relative speed.  The LT does not deal with real, physical changes in other IFRs;  it tells us only what we will observe (Einstein said "judge") about those other IFRs.


Proof?  If a clock's rate is actually changed by its speed relative to something else, then all clocks must be stopped (all seconds must be of infinite duration).  This is because at any time there is a vast number of light quanta moving at C relative to all clocks everywhere.  Note; the LT does not require the other thing/IFR to have mass, nor to have any particular proximity.  The same applies to the spatial dimensions;  if the LT deals with factual changes, then all spatial dimensions must be zero.  The same also applies to mass;  if the LT deals with factual changes, then all masses must be infinite.


A spaceship traversing empty, gravitation-free space, accelerating at a constant 1G will reach the speed of light, c, relative to an observer fixed at its starting point, in about 361 days.  It will reach 2c in another 361 days, etc.  The LT does not preclude this.  The LT says only that, to an observer in another IFR (here on earth, for instance), some peculiar things will appear to happen to the dimensions of that spaceship (assuming he can observe them, which would actually be impossible with available technology).  The only "constraint" on the speed of the spaceship lies in Einstein's statement, " . . . the velocity c plays the part of a limiting velocity, which can neither be reached nor exceeded by any real body."  Few seem to recognize that Einstein was carefully stating a mathematical condition and used "real" in its mathematical sense.  According to the LT a body traveling at exactly c, relative to an observer, will appear to have zero dimension in the direction of its speed relative to the observer and an infinite inertial mass;  a body traveling at greater than c, relative to an observer, will appear to have an imaginary

(n(-1)) dimension in the direction of its speed relative to the observer, and an imaginary inertial mass.  To Einstein, these were "meaningless" situations.  He was stating an opinion, a viewpoint, not a law of nature.  Imaginary dimensions and parametric values are not "meaningless";  they are often met in the real world of science today, and they are quite "real," in the physical sense.


General Relativistic time dilation is quite different than that of Special Relativity: it is real.  In theory, time factually passes more slowly, within a gravitational field, as that field's intensity increases.  In theory at least, time stops (the duration of a second becomes infinite) at the Schwarzschild radius of a true Black Hole.


Please pass these comments on to Messrs Dick and Harding if you decide not to publish them.


Censorship of other than overt personal affronts has no place in the discussions of supposedly intelligent people.  Please try to keep it to a minimum.


Best regards,




[Editor's comments:  I found much to agree with and some stuff with which to disagree in this letter.


On liberalism vs. conservatism--years ago, my angry bouncer girlfriend, who was also a psych (that most liberal of disciplines) major, would talk about the need to smash asshole bar customers and in a different discussion the same day, would talk about the necessity to treat all people with equality and consideration.  When I pointed out this contradiction, she didn't hesitate to say, "Well, there are people, and there is trash."  I've kept this in mind and am drifting towards the opinion that everyone deserves consideration because there are NO people, there is only trash.  We are all equally appalling (except for, of course, those people who are REALLY appalling).


The trouble with Zeitgeists is that most clever people end up on the same sides of burning issues, leaving dopes to argue the other sides.  In the middle ages, most of the best people were involved with the church, so most of the best, well-reasoned, convincing rhetoric was religious.  Twenty years ago, liberals were clever and amusing and conservatives were stiff and humorless, but now, under a Republican Zeitgeist, conservative such as P. J. O'Rourke and Rush Limbaugh are more fun to listen to than their whining liberal counterparts.  (My Buick has only AM radio, so I am forced to listen to people talking.  I disagree with everything that Limbaugh says, but he says it in an entertaining manner.  He is slowly poisoning my brain.)


I postulate that great civilizations are differentiated from lousy ones by having a very few people who know what's going on, as opposed to having absolutely no one who understands what's happening.  I also postulate that at this point in time, no one knows what's going on.


About free will--the predeterminism you discuss sounds thoroughly Newtonian and mechanistic.  Quantum processes certainly allow some flexibility, if not in thought processes, then at least with regard to the microscopic paths which the universe may take.  And didn't Einstein say something like, "We have all the free will we need," implying that free will isn't as important as free access to all the information stored in our brains when making decisions?


And with regard to Special Relativity--aren't there two sets of effects for observers, the relativistic effects and the Doppler effects?  A receding object will appear to have retarded time and an approaching object will appear to have accelerated time, but given the same relative speed, both objects should have the same relativistic time dilation, which I regard as being more real than the Doppler effect (in that Doppler effects disappear when twins are reunited, but relativistic effects persist as seen in the twins' differing ages).


I've always kinda hoped that imaginary numbers would have some real significance under relativity and poked for awhile at an idea that protons and neutrons are just electrons grown fat by being forced beyond light speed.]




Chris Cole


Rick has asked me to write something about relativity, since my background is in physics and clearly a lot of subscribers are confused about the subject.  The law of Galilean relativity states that the laws of physics hold in all unaccelerated frames.  The law of Special relativity holds that the speed of light is a constant.


To show how immediate the counter-intuitive consequences of this law are, I will prove that time dilation occurs during motion.  Suppose I build two identical clocks out of mirrors.  Each click of the clock occurs when a photon bounces off a mirror.  If the mirrors are 1 meter apart, a click occurs about every three nanoseconds.  Now, suppose I put one of the clocks on a rocket sled and have it race by me.  Then clearly I observe the photon traveling on a slanted path while is bounces between the two moving mirrors.  Therefore, the distance the photon must travel is increased.  But the photon still travels at the speed of light, so the clock ticks more slowly.  Working out the geometry shows that the clock ticks


times more slowly than mine does.  And since there is no way to determine which frame you're in, the people on the rocket sled are living more slowly than I am.  Otherwise, they could detect that they are moving by noticing that their light clock was falling behind their wrist watch, heart beat, etc.


If you plug reasonable numbers into this equation, you will discover that the difference in clock rate is pretty tiny.  If the sled moves at 30 meters per second, the clocks differ by one femtosecond each second.  It is small wonder that our intuitions do not include this effect.


It is tempting to try to regain our intellectual footing at this point by arguing that we only observe the "apparent" dilation of time -- that this is some kind of an illusion.  But this is not a tenable position.  We can take two sufficiently accurate clocks, put one in a plane, fly it around for a while, and observe that it has lost time.  This has been tested myriad times.  The reason we call it the "law" of special relativity is that it is a law of nature, not an observational trick.  Nature simply does not work the way our naive intuitions say it does.  If you think special relativity is strange, general relativity has a few surprises in store for you -- not to mention quantum mechanics.  My only advice is: get used to it.  That will be $50.